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Inside the original Blackburn Market Hall - Published with the permission of the Ray Smith & Jim Halsall Collection

Heritage Open Days to be Biggest Ever in Blackburn


The national Heritage Open Days scheme is set to be the biggest it has ever been in Blackburn this year.

The events which take place from the 12 – 15 September 2013, allow people to see buildings that are not normally open to the public, take part in special events and see archives. All these events are FREE.

Blackburn Life is pleased to be involved in promoting the events as well as compiling a presentation of Blackburn archives kindly supplied from the collection of Ray Smith and Jim Halsall. The collection of Blackburn vintage photos, which contains hundreds of photos, will be displayed on screens in Blackburn Market in partnership with Fresh Approach In.

The photos will be displayed from the 12 – 14 September and also for some weeks before. We will also be previewing some of these amazing photos on Blackburn Life over the coming weeks.

Other events taking place on the Heritage Open Days include:

  • Ainsowrth’s the Jewellers – Exhibition with photographs and memorabilia of Blackburn’s oldest retail business, trading since 1870
  • BBC Radio Lancashire Tour – Take a look behind the scenes of a working BBC office. See how we put programmes together and take a look back in time at how we used to do it.
  • Blackburn Cathedral – A morning interactive session for children led by the cathedral’s education officer. Activities will involve colouring and dressing up and will focus on the church’s year. An afternoon session open to all: an opportunity to hear a 500+ year living history of music in Blackburn. The boy and girl choristers can be heard rehearsing for and then singing a service of choral evensong.
  • Blackburn Masonic Hall – Visitors will be able to access all areas across 3 floors of the Masonic Hall and find out about the history of the building and the development of Freemasonry. Refreshments will be provided.
  • Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery – Behind the scenes tour – Whilst anyone can visit the museum and see the wonderful galleries, these tours provide the public with the opportunity to step behind the scenes and have a look at the storerooms and some of the objects not on display.
  • Blackburn Subscription Bowling Club – Meet local historian, Ray Smith who will introduce you to one of the oldest crown green bowling clubs in the country.
  • Blackburn Old Cemetery – History walk of the most interesting historical and unusual graves including murder victims, Victorian businessmen, military memorials and a giants grave.
  • Hobkirks Sewing Machines – A guided tour of the museums in our premises. Learn about the history of the sewing machine and see over 100 antique machines, most over 100 years old.
  • Holy Trinity Church – A great opportunity to visit this rarely open historic church. Inside its special glory is the flat timber ceiling with a series of 80 painted heraldic panels, mostly commemorating families who contributed to the construction of the church. Is your family commemorated on the ceiling?
  • King George’s Hall – Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of King George’s Hall and learn more about its fascinating history, including its mysterious ghost! Children and families welcome!
  • Meet Mr. Dixon at Blackburn Orphanage – See inside the headquarters of this 120 year old charity. Find out all about the founder, James Dixon and how the charity works today. Hide and Seek Orphan Treasure Trail. Make and Take portraits of Mr & Mrs Dixon. Dressing Up.
  • Meet the Blackburn Giant – Step into Mercer’s toy shop, one of the oldest established retailers in Blackburn and through the beautifully restored Victorian arcade entrance dating back to 1860. Here you will find a life-size portrait of Fred Kempster, the Blackburn Giant. Find out what he ate for breakfast, marvel at the size of his feet, find out where he is buried and how much his underpants sold for at auction!
  • Blackburn Town Hall – The Mayor will be hosting visits to the Mayor’s Parlour and Council Chamber, where visitors can meet the Mayor and look at a display of Civic Insignia and look around the Council Chamber.

All events are free but some may need to be booked in advance. Blackburn Market will be hosting an information stall on the run up to the event, where children will also be able to collect a passport to have stamped at some of the attractions.

To find out about specific opening times and days and which events need pre-booking, please visit the Heritage Open Days website http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/

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